March 20, 2014
RUSTON, La. - The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs return home well-rested and ready to face Old Dominion for the first time in program history in a three-game Conference USA series beginning at 6 p.m. Friday at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park in Ruston.
The Bulldogs come into this weekend with 7-12 overall record and a 2-4 mark after having played two Conference USA series, while Old Dominion is 12-9 on the season and will also enter the series with a 2-4 league record on the season. The Monarchs are currently 4-3 this season when playing on the road, while Tech is 5-8 this year in games played at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
"We are going to go back with Phil Maton on Friday and match our best with their best to try and get that Friday night win, but we are going to have to score some runs for him," head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "Old Dominion is a good team that has played good people this season, so we know they are a solid ball club. We are not going to have an easy weekend in this league and we knew that coming in."
This upcoming series will mark the first home weekend series for the Bulldogs since hosting Minnesota at the beginning of March. Most recently, LA Tech dropped the series at Florida Atlantic in three tight contests with the Owls in Boca Raton.
After Friday night's contest, the two teams will wrap up the conference series with a doubleheader scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Saturday. The third game of the series was originally scheduled to be played at 1 p.m. Sunday, but due to impending weather in the area Saturday evening and Sunday morning, that game has been rescheduled as part of a Saturday doubleheader.
A LOOK AT THE MONARCHS
Old Dominion comes to Ruston after losing a conference home series last weekend 2-1 to UAB. Coming into this season, Old Dominion was picked to finish 10th out of 13 teams in the preseason Conference USA polls. Most recently, the Monarchs are coming off a midweek contest against Liberty in a game they lost, 1-0, in 16 innings Wednesday night. Old Dominion has a 12-9 overall record, including Conference USA wins over No. 17 Rice and UAB. The Monarchs are coached by Chris Finwood, who is now in his third season as head coach at Old Dominion.
The Bulldogs will continue to face the unknown as a first-year member of Conference USA as Old Dominion is the second consecutive league opponent Tech will play for the first time in program history. Louisiana Tech has never faced the Monarchs on the baseball diamond in the history of both teams and Old Dominion is one of four total C-USA teams the Bulldogs will face off with for the first time this season. Last weekend, Tech battled Florida Atlantic for the first time and came out with a 1-2 record against the Owls.
At the plate
Taylor Love has taken over the top spot for the Bulldogs at the dish with a .338 batting average this season. Love leads the team in hits (23) and runs (11), and is also coming off one of his best games as a Bulldog after going 3-for-4 with his first career home run last week against Grambling State. Both Tyler Ervine and Bre'shon Kimbell are tied for the team lead with three home runs apiece, while Stephen Gandy continues his hot streak at the plate with a .323 average in 12 games. As a team, LA Tech is hitting .241 this season with 21 doubles, a triple and nine home runs.
Old Dominion comes into the series with a .270 team batting average with 41 doubles (2nd in C-USA), three triples and eight home runs. The Monarchs are led by P.J. Higgins, who is hitting .305 with seven doubles and 10 RBI.
On the mound
Louisiana Tech will make a slight change to the rotation from last weekend with a trio of right-handers set to take the mound, starting with junior Phil Maton Friday night. Adam Derouen and Richie Navari are scheduled to start on Saturday for the Bulldogs.
ODU will start off the series with sophomore right-hander Tommy Alexander, followed by left-hander Andy Roberts. The Monarchs have yet to decide on a starter for the second contest on Saturday. As a whole, Old Dominion has a team ERA of 3.02, which ranks seventh in C-USA.
WITH THE CALL
All three games this weekend against the Monarchs will be broadcast on the LA Tech Sports Network on KNBB 97.7 FM with Mark Cramer calling all the action for the Bulldogs in the three-game Conference USA series. The series can also be seen and heard on LA Tech All-Access for subscribers. Live stats will be available via GameTracker by accessing the link on the baseball schedule page on LATechSports.com.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Baseball, please follow @LATechBSB on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.